Taking the legacy of chole bhature forward

Think of Delhi’s street food, and there is no way that chole bhature won’t cross your mind.

Published: 16th June 2022 09:13 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th June 2022 09:13 AM   |  A+A-

Chole bhature is an intrinsic part of Delhi’s street food. (File Photo)

Chole bhature is an intrinsic part of Delhi’s street food. (File Photo)

Express News Service

Think of Delhi’s street food, and there is no way that chole bhature won’t cross your mind. One of our city’s eternal favourites, these puffy golden bhaturas [deep-fried bread], paired with tangy and spicy chole [chickpeas curry], is comfort food to a point that it can be enjoyed any time, all day. Such is its popularity that you would find it on carts that dot every lane—and also in the city’s fine-dining restaurants. If there ever was to be a contender for democracy in food, it has to be this.

Interestingly, the place where the fine-dining journey for the humble chole bhature started was at the iconic Kwality restaurant in Connaught Place. Set up in the late 1940s by Peshori Lal Lamba after he migrated from Lahore, this erstwhile elite eatery would serve club food of the colonisers, such as au gratin, sandwiches, a la kiev, mulligatawny soup, and puddings.

Yet, such was the pull and taste of chole bhature that it was a favourite then. Even after all these years, and as a classy diner today, their chole bhature remains a crowd-puller. Interestingly, finding its roots in the partition of India is another iconic place by the name of Sita Ram Diwan Chand. Known for their speciality chole bhature—it is served with a side of a spicy aloo subzi—this Paharganj eatery started as a humble push-cart by a gentleman named Sita Ram. Along with his son Diwan Chand, Sita Ram ji migrated to Delhi from West Punjab in Pakistan.The first plate of chole bhature that they sold cost 12 annas. Today, this legendary eatery delivers across Delhi NCR via food aggregator apps, and a plate of their chole bhature now costs upward of `80.

While this dish itself is an eternal classic, its charm in Old Delhi parlance is unparalleled. From the narrow yet beautiful bylanes of Purani Dilli, Nand Di Hatti is an enduring classic—just like the dish itself. Originally from Rawalpindi in Pakistan, where they sold similar fare as well, Nand Lal ji and his family migrated to India, and set up a similar business in Sadar Bazaar, Old Delhi.

Even today, they are known for their desi ghee-fried bhaturas. Where I found beauty here is in how significant chole bhature is to our city, and each of its aspects. Street food is an intrinsic part of every culture around the world, and has deep cultural significance. Most of these iconic street food shops have formed the backbone of multiple generations of families who guard their recipes with pride, 
and present not just flavours on a plate but also generational heritage.

Through all of this, what you would notice is that even as each of the ventures mentioned above have expanded their businesses with each generation, they have held onto the roots that they lay 
in India. Even as the cityscape changes around them, their legacies remain eternal.

Vernika Awal
is a food writer who is known for her research-based articles through her blog ‘Delectable Reveries’ 

India Matters


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